Sunday, December 15, 2013

Doriot Dwyer Interview - Part I

Powell player Doriot Anthony Dwyer is a living legend and pioneer of the flute world, having been the first female to hold a principal chair in a major U.S. symphony orchestra.  Dwyer won the principal flute chair for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1952 and held that position through 1990.  Prior to Boston, she performed as second flutist with the National Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and as principal flutist with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.  She also performed as a studio musician in Los Angeles and with Frank Sinatra and the Ballets Russes in New York.  She attended the Interlochen Arts Academy and is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music.

ICA Classics released a three-part interview with Ms. Dwyer, and in this video clip, we see the very first of the three segments.  Dwyer recounts her earliest introduction to music at home, listening to radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera.  Her familiarity with the operatic literature proved helpful later in her private lessons with then principal flutist of the Chicago Symphony, Ernest Liegl.  Traveling 100 miles from her hometown into Chicago for private lessons, she remembers the hour-long lessons, which consisted of at least one etude followed by orchestral studies.  In this interview, she discusses opera as a genre that she did not necessarily prefer, but that she enjoyed because it was challenging -- and thrilling.  She recalls having to sight-read an opera during her days with the National Symphony.  She credits experiences such as that one to preparing her for the Boston Symphony.  Dwyer explained that she would not allow herself to be distracted and did not want to "slip,"  She said, "I didn't think it was possible to lose track of where I was, because it was just so interesting, but that's exactly where people lose track..." Commenting on her position as a female orchestral flutist in the 1940s, Dwyer remembers her conductor in Washington, D.C.  She says, "They never expected me to me good at all, because I was a girl -- think of that! But, (the conductor) never said he was surprised, because if he did, it would mean he didn't expect much from me, and he didn't want me to feel that way."

Friday, December 6, 2013

Let's Get This Poulenc Started - Cindy Ellis

The Poulenc Sonata for Flute and Piano is a staple of the flute repertoire, and as Powell player Cindy Ellis notes, "the opening is one of our most beloved passages...and one of our trickiest as well."  The opening's high E is particularly a challenging point, but Ms. Ellis demonstrates some techniques for performing the opening with ease.  In the video below, she demonstrates technical exercises using longtones to build control and explains some mechanical options for facilitating the high E (the split-E mechanism and the G disc).

Click here to view the video by Cindy Ellis.
To read more about Cindy Ellis visit:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Paul Edmund-Davies on Sonority

When we play flute, the air we put into the instrument creates sound.  However, the way we put air into the instrument affects the sonorities we create.  This concept is discussed by Powell Artist Paul Edmund-Davies in the video below.  While many flutists think about blowing air "into" the flute, Mr. Edmund-Davies demonstrates the concept of blowing air through the flute.  He discusses his conceptualization of blowing "through" the instrument and gives us some terrific examples, including a simple G major scale and the introduction of the Fauré Fantasise for Flute, Op.79.

Click this caption to watch the Paul Edmund-Davies video on sonority.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yo-Yo Ma’s “Edge Effect”: Creating Art for Life’s Sake

By Susanna Loewy

Few people speak as well as Leonard Bernstein; he is eloquent, calm, and effective. When he speaks, he creates an inspiration to learn. He influenced a generation by creating the Young People’s Concerts; through those concerts, his Harvard lectures, and his numerous interviews, his educational legacy is seldom matched. Yo-Yo Ma though, has established himself as having many of the same interests, as well as the same speaking gift. In Ma’s Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy, he posits that we all need to push toward the “Edge Effect” in order to create “Art for Life’s Sake.” This lecture, although an hour long, is well worth the time. Simply put (and without exaggerating), the talk is life-changing.

Susanna Loewy painting "sets" for collaborative performance.
The thesis: In ecology, the place where two ecosystems merge is where there is the most diversity in species, and where the most growth occurs. The two habitats influence each other and the biological density flourishes. This phenomenon is called the “edge effect.” Yo-Yo applies the concept to the arts, saying that in order to continue to create new, interesting, and sustaining art, we have to push toward our own edges. We need to meet the other art forms and allow ourselves to influence (and be influenced by) our surroundings. And actually, he doesn’t just appeal to the arts… he says that we have to address the three engines of our society -- the political, economic, and cultural engines -- and overlap wherever we can. If we can create the venn diagram overlap between the three, that intersection is where we have the most potential. Yo-Yo speaks beautifully, and interchanges performance examples with fact, creating a woven lecture concert that every artist and educator should experience.

It’s easy to rely on what we know. As musicians, we know orchestras and the standard type of concert hall performance. Visual artists know gallery openings. There is a resistance toward trying something new, because new things can fail. If we combine the arts, if we’re outside the concert hall, are we still valid musicians?  Moreover, is the end result ridiculous? That’s certainly a possibility… but within that sometimes scary liminal space, there is also the alternative of creating something meaningful.

An example: Cheryl Hochberg, the visual arts department head at Kutztown University (where I am the flute professor), has an art opening at Montgomery College in Maryland next week. After viewing the Ballet Russe exhibit at the National Gallery of Art last spring (and attending an accompanying concert), she had the idea that, in a ballet, the costumes are what bridge visual aspects of the art (set design and dance) to music. She contacted me about collaborating to create a costumed musical experience at her art opening. At first, I was skeptical. Costumes, really?? But then, I got inspired.

What music would relate to her work? My answer: Cheryl’s work is slightly surrealist -- nature scenes that are, in some almost unidentifiable way, tweaked. So, I thought music within the neoclassical vein would be effective; the standard framework of the classical time period influenced with sarcasm and understated pain seemed to appropriately match Cheryl’s art.

Next, how could the costumes work? Musicians generally aren’t all that gung-ho to wear capes, masks, and tights. I was a bit nervous about the whole venture, and the feasibility of selling it to the musicians involved. But, I had the opportunity to talk with Andy Brehm, the costume designer, and together we (Cheryl, Andy, and I) came up with a concept that works. Andy and his students (with Cheryl’s help) are creating stationary boots made of plaster that are modeled to represent the lower portion of an animal. Next, the music stands are being rebuilt to act as the animal torsos. So, the musicians (dressed in black pants and matching colored turtlenecks) step into a ‘set’ of sorts and perform as characters inspired by Cheryl’s work.

It might not work. Even with the absence of capes and the like, the whole scenario might wind up feeling insane, or silly… but I really don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think it’s going to be incredible. I’m excited about the performance next Thursday; I think it has real possibility of uniquely influencing audience members. If nothing else, that audience we’re creating is something new and different. Some people will be there to hear the Inscape musicians. Some people will be there to see Cheryl’s work, and some for Andy’s. With any luck, all three branches will overlap and be changed. They’ll be more aware of the other art forms around them; perhaps the art enthusiasts will keep going to Inscape concerts, and maybe the music aficionados will become more aware of art openings. And that effect of creating new interest is what we, as musicians today, need to grasp. We can’t isolate ourselves and stubbornly insist that the model we’re used to is the only relevant model. Of course, the seemingly silly and insane projects also don’t have to be the only things we’re doing, but eclecticism certainly needs to be embraced with as much enthusiasm and vigor as projects more standard.

And here’s something else: Last Thursday, I had a day that seemed like it would never end. It was 9pm and I had been going since 5am that morning. As I was getting ready to leave Kutztown, I stopped by Cheryl’s house; I knew she, Andy, and the students were working on the boots, and I wanted to see how it was going. I walked into the house  and sat down on the spinning chair just outside the studio doorway. Cheryl glanced up and told me to come to look at what they were doing. I walked over and as I was standing there looking over their plaster creations, she handed me a paintbrush. I play the flute; I don’t paint. My reaction was to look at it skeptically and grimace. I’m a little scared of visual art. Cheryl rolled her eyes and handed me the yellow paint. I reluctantly started covering the boot with paint, and before I knew it, I had my hands in yellow wax and my dress and shoes were covered in dusty plaster. More importantly, I felt both calm and invigorated in a way that I have seldom experienced. The art -- it was so different than practicing, than anything to do with music. After a long day of teaching, organizing and performing, it was exactly what I needed. Spotify was playing, and while I’m not normally a fan of background music, in this case it just melted into the artwork and the atmosphere. I had physically stepped from the doorway into the studio, and was then merged into a different world. I no longer felt alone or isolated; I was part of group of artists… and the fact that I’m actually going to perform in these boots makes it all the more meaningful. I was involved in the creation process, and the performance will mean that much more. Art: for life’s sake.

Next semester, there will be a repeat performance in Pennsylvania. Only, then it will be student musicians playing. So, I’ll get the chance to relay my experiences to my students, to talk to them about creating an interdisciplinary performance, in addition to teaching the music. They’ll get to be part of this whole process as well. They’ll take their experiences and share it with others; more audiences will be created…

I feel lucky to be part of this project, and I’m inspired to create more. It won’t necessarily be the same model (nor should it be), but I’m excited about pushing myself and others to a different plane. I’m obviously not Yo-Yo Ma, but I think that I have figured out an example of an edge effect, and it feels amazing. We can’t all be world famous educators or musicians, but we can all influence our own realms; we just have to figure out how we’re most effective. Simply put, I think this “edge effect” and creation of “art for life’s sake” are worth examining thoroughly. The interpretation will always be different, and that’s how it should be.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Trial Run

We recently had one of our Powell artists here at the shop to try new flutes and headjoints.  He tried several headjoints and flutes made from different metals -- gold, silver, platinum, and Aurumite.  First, the artist tested the flutes in a small office.  Then, the artist moved on to a larger conference room.  Finally, he moved to a large "auditorium."  Obviously, the sound varied depending on the acoustic space, so it was important for him to try the instruments in different spaces.

The artist was particularly concerned with projection.  The auditorium would create a space that served as a a better gauge of how far the sound would carry than a smaller room could provide.  For the artist, projection was a key factor because many of his current performance engagements are solos with orchestras.  Orchestral performers are often looking for equipment that will allow them to blend with the section as well. 

When it comes to trials, sound is really central to any test.  However, there are other factors that the player needs to evaluate, such as resistance and ease of articulation.  Metal properties and characteristics will factor into the mix as one considers price range as well.  The ability to customize the flute and headjoint components allow players to have "a bit" of metals that create certain qualities while staying within a price point that is comfortable (such as a gold riser on a silver headjoint).  When considering metal choices, players may have allergies that need to be taken into consideration as well.  Our Customer Service Manager recounted one customer with a silver flute and headjoint who eventually developed a rash under her lip, which was indicative of an allergy to silver.  When it comes to headjoints in particular, other players may simply have older headjoint styles and find that a variety of newer cuts provide them with all the characteristic qualities they are looking for in something new.

Our artist had an idea of what he thought he would choose and then went with something quite different after several trials in different rooms.  He also asked for feedback from staff members in a "blind test" in the auditorium.  If you are interested in a Powell flute or headjoint trial, you can submit a request at

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bernard Z. Goldberg

By Christina Cobas (with Dr. Nora Lee Garcia)

Bernard Z. Goldberg
Bernard Z. Goldberg, former principal flutist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, is recognized as one of the world’s leading performers and teachers of the instrument. Among others, he has studied with George Barrere, Marcel Moyse, and Pablo Casals. Graduating from Julliard at the age of 19, he joined the Cleveland Orchestra, and became their principal flutist at age of 21. Two years later he accepted the position of principal flute with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and New York Lincoln Center “Mostly Mozart Festival” chose him as principal flute.  Throughout his tenure, he played all three Mozart concertos in Avery Fisher Hall. He has performed under conductors Fritz Reiner, William Steinberg, Pablo Casals, Andre Previn, Lorin Maazel, Enrich Leinsdorf, Victor de Sabata, Paul Paray and many more. 

Mr. Goldberg has toured extensively as a recitalist and with the Musica Viva Trio. He has given numerous recitals in New York, most notably at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts. Among his recordings are releases with the Musica Viva Trio, the Audubon Quartet, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Casals Festival. Mr Goldberg is a member of the faculty of the Brooklyn College Conservatory in New York and has served as guest conductor for many orchestras around the world.

Goldberg’s determination and hard work propelled him to a highly successful teaching and performing career. His teaching techniques were acquired through experience and by observing great artists making music. He inspires many students through his playing, teaching philosophies and dedication.

Goldberg often remembers a quote from a conversation with Jean-Pierre Rampal:

“...if you want to have an audience you have to love the audience and you have to give with your full heart.”  Goldberg has added his own addition to this sentiment “There is no way that you can have a successful career or especially successful life if you hold back. When I give a master class I don’t know any of the students, but I try to give them all that I know I have. I’m interested in the students who try to learn to make music.”

Dr. Nora Lee Garcia, Associate Professor at the University of Central Florida, is a former student of Mr. Goldberg and comments about his teaching:
Dr. Nora Lee Garcia

“I was 12 years old when I heard Mr. Goldberg for the first time. It was at The Casals Festival in Puerto Rico, and he was playing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This was an amazing experience to watch and listen to him perform. He was able to project across the orchestra or blend perfectly with any instrument.  When I was 19, I went to study with him at Brooklyn College for my Master’s degree. I remember the first lesson; I wanted to impress him so badly. I played the first movement of the Ibert Concerto.  When I finished he looked at me and said ‘Do you know that playing the flute is easy?’  We looked at each other and laughed.  From that lesson on, I learned not only music making but how music is built and the traditions that are behind it. 

One of my favorite stories from my lessons with Goldberg (that I always share with my students) involved an Altes Etude he has asked me to learn.  Mr. Goldberg studied the Altes Etudes with George Barrere, who in turn studied with Altes himself.  As a result, Mr. Goldberg knows Altes Etudes inside and out (in fact, he will play the second flute part by memory with his students). One week I was studying very hard for my Masters degree exams and didn’t devote enough time to truly learn the etude. So, I planned to leave my book at home and try to get through the lesson without playing it.  My lesson started as usual with Taffanel and Gaubert scales and thirds. Then Mr. Goldberg smiled and asked for the Altes Etude.  I went to my bag and began looking through it – with concern on my face.  I turned and said to him “I forgot my book at home -- I was practicing and forgot to bring it.” Mr. Goldberg looked at me very sternly and said ‘Play it by memory.’  I remember looking at him with shock on my face, and nervously, I started playing the first 4 measures.  All of a sudden, Altes became a new composition. I stopped, and he said to me ‘Next time when you practice so much – memorize it!’  I learned my lesson and always remember that experience with a smile.

I was always impressed by how he coped with such a busy schedule traveling from Pittsburgh to New York every week.  During my three years of study with him he never cancelled a lesson and never was late. He was always full of energy and gave 100% of his attention to all students in their lessons.

Mr. Goldberg’s expertise in performing the music of J.S. Bach is very unique. He studied with Diran Alexanian one of the world’s foremost experts on Bach’s music.  During my lessons, I learned many aspects of phrasing and tone color possibilities.

He was able to teach music in even the simplest of melodies.  I watched him teach a master class on the 24 Little Melodies book and by the end everybody in the room was in love with the book.  The younger generations of flutists don’t necessarily know these types of books and Goldberg and others are doing a great job of bringing these treasures to life.

Goldberg studied at the Marlboro Music Festival with Marcel Moyse, and has many stories to share.  In one master class, Goldberg played one of the 24 Little Melodies for Moyse and the class.  When he was finished, Moyse asked the class, ‘Do you know the composer of this piece?’ And many people replied with many different answers.  The correct answer was, Moyse did!  Moyse proceeded to explain to the class that the flute player needs to learn how to play a simple melody and as many variations as possible.  This stayed with Goldberg through all of his performing and teaching – and is still with him today.”

Bernard Z. Goldberg is currently on faculty at the Brooklyn College Conservatory and maintains a private studio as well as an active masterclass schedule.  Since his retirement from the Pittsburgh Symphony in 1993, he has served as flute coach for the Asian Youth Orchestra and spent eight years as Conductor and Musical Director of the McKeesport PA Symphony (1993-2001).  He loves to read and always is learning new music and scores.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Grenadilla Headjoint

By Tammy Evans Yonce

Tammy Evans Yonce
I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to try (and then purchase) a wooden Powell headjoint. I was interested in experimenting with the different color possibilities that I could get with the headjoint, and I haven't been disappointed. Having studied Baroque flute for a short while, I was curious if the headjoint would allow me to create that warmer wooden sound with so many subtle color variations that are possible on Baroque flute. 

Dr. Yonce in a recent recital with the grenadilla headjoint.
Not only are there a lot of color possibilities with this headjoint, but I've been really happy with how well it blends with other instruments. As a flutist who plays a lot of chamber music, it's nice to have a few headjoint options so that it is possible to choose the one that blends best with the particular instrumentation with which I'm playing. 

I've used this headjoint quite a bit in my daily practice as well as in recital since buying it earlier this year. It has been a flexible, useful addition to my Powell collection. 

Find Dr. Tammy Evans Yonce on the web:
Powell Profile:
Personal website: 
Twitter: @TammyEvansYonce.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Teaching Our Teachers...

Leone Buyse
Thinking about some of the most influential flute educators of the current day, Leone Buyse has made a lasting mark on the landscape of flute teaching.  In 2010, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Flute Association and has enjoyed an illustrious career performing and teaching around the globe.  Ms. Buyse paid tribute to her first major teacher, David Berman, in a wonderful post on her blog.  Below is an excerpt, highlighting his pedagogical style and memorable advice she noted in lessons...

David Berman had taught at Ithaca College for only three years when I met him as a 12-year-old flute student.  In the three decades that followed he made immense contributions to the Ithaca College School of Music and also to the greater Ithaca community through his annual solo recitals and numerous faculty chamber music concerts each year.  He played in the Ithaca Chamber Orchestra and the Ithaca Woodwind Quintet, and was both a conductor and member of the Ithaca Opera Orchestra. At Ithaca College he built a vital flute studio and while teaching flute, music theory, and music history mentored untold numbers of students who now serve our profession as performers and teachers.  As a faculty leader he developed and headed the chamber music program and chaired the committee that instigated such major changes in the music curriculum as making chamber music a requirement, requiring diction classes for all singers, and offering a 4.5-year program that combines music education and performance.  In addition, during the three years that Berman served as Assistant Dean he instituted many improvements to the physical plant of the music school. He justifiably takes pride in those accomplishments, but above all, he is most proud of all his students, saying, “Students are your teachers.”  How true!
How exactly did Dave Berman’s teaching make such a difference to me and the many students whom he mentored during the course of his professional life?  In re-reading notebooks that contain his comments from lessons more than four decades ago, I’m continually struck by the life wisdom that was shared in those hours—lessons that always included a balanced diet of scales, etudes, solos, and assigned duets.  As an example, here’s my entry for July 24, 1962:
Start competing with unseen competitors.  
Aim for Carnegie Hall.  
The USA is only one country in a huge world…
Plan to practice 3-4 hours daily.  
Budget your time.
Immediately following those motivational words comes the practical, technical advice that I clearly must have needed:
While playing Taffanel Gaubert exercises, stop on a note and listen to your tone.Try to maintain brilliance in the upper middle register when going down.Don’t make the embouchure hole too wide for your lowest notes because too much air will escape.Try to get a good low tone before vibrating; vibrato is a camouflage.
Here are just a few other sample comments from other lesson entries:
Practice without stopping before hard passages in an etude.
Don’t think about your teacher’s possible reaction—Just play!
View criticisms in proportion.
Point the tongue for a clear staccato.
Practicing whistle tones requires a relaxed embouchure and good support.  This will help develop tonal placement and embouchure strength. 
In exploring tone and articulation there are never-ending complexities, deeper and deeper shades and details.
These quotes offer only a small glimpse of the spirit that made David Berman’s pedagogy so meaningful.  He was demanding and he was honest; he was able to get to the heart of a technical or musical problem and help a student improve.  How often he tried to help me achieve a sense of musical freedom, especially in music that had an ethnic quality, such as Bartok.  At those times he would often ask me to sing, which I dreaded. (Not any more—I now sing all the time while teaching!) Most important, he possessed a well-honed sense of how and when to push or encourage, and he understood how each student’s background might affect his or her ability to approach and solve an issue.  He was intuitive, kind, and effective—a winning combination of attributes for anyone in the teaching profession.
*The full text of Ms. Buyse's post, titled "Honoring David Berman," may be found on her website at

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Paul Edmund-Davies on Breathing

Paul Edmund-Davies says, "If you have air, you have a voice."  What exactly does this mean?  Well, breathing properly is critical when playing a wind instrument, and Mr. Edmund-Davies elaborates on this in the video lesson below.  He says that it is important to understand the workings of the lungs and how to control air.  He discusses "types of breaths" that he has observed over the years and compares the "shallow breath" with the much more substantial "diagonal breath."  Musical examples featured in the lesson include Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, Mozart's Flute Concerto No.1 in G Major, K.313, and Bach's Flute Concerto in G Minor, BWV 1056.

Click this caption to watch the Paul Edmund-Davies video lesson on breathing.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Healing Powers with Royalton Music_Update

We had previously posted the article below about Royalton Music Center's music therapy program, lesson program, and summer music offerings.  We realized that the numbers and options had probably grown since we last spoke with Royalton Music Center's COO, Lauren Haas Amanfoh, so we caught up with her to see what was new.  The last paragraph has certainly changed from our previous post!  You will see that the number of students in their lesson program has grown (by 100), the early childhood Music Class program is now seven times per week (was three just a year ago!), and there are three new summer offerings. 

Lauren Haas Amanfoh at Royalton Music Center
Many local music retailers have had long-standing relationships with the school districts in their communities, but there is one particular retailer that has expanded its programs to fully serve the diversified populations in its community -- Royalton Music Center.  Located in North Royalton, Ohio, the store opened its doors 48 years ago and has remained a thriving, family-run business for three generations.  Owner and Chief Operating Officer, Lauren Haas Amanfoh, recalled that her grandfather, Richard Eleck, opened the store to serve the greater musical needs of the community.  Mr. Eleck was a band director at St. Albert’s Parish School and opened the store with the help of his wife, Ida.  Lauren is now the third-generation owner of the store and spoke to us in-depth about one program in particular that is very close to her personally – their music therapy program.

Lauren’s mother, Sheri Eleck-Haas, began the music therapy program at RMC fifteen years ago.  At the time, Sheri was the second-generation owner of the family business and greatly believed in the value and proven benefits of music therapy programs.  She recognized that through music therapy and the application of musical methods, many clients with disabilities were able to achieve other life-changing goals as well.  For example, songs help Alzheimer’s patients recall memories.  Other participants who may have never spoken before utter their first words through singing.  Lauren emphasized that music therapy is so powerful because the goals are not just musical – the changes affect the lives of participants and their families – which Lauren witnessed first-hand recently.  In 2009, Lauren’s mother, Sheri, was fighting breast cancer and receiving inpatient treatment at the Cleveland Clinic, ultimately unable to sit-up or talk because of her condition.  She was in constant pain, for which she was connected to a pain pump machine to receive pain medication, and constant oxygen.  Lauren remembered coming into the room to visit her mother at the hospital one day, and she could not believe her eyes:  her mother was sitting with a music therapist – sitting up by herself in a chair – and singing Barbara Streisand songs.  Sheri always loved music, so music therapy was extremely beneficial to her personally, psychologically, and physically.  After this particular session, Lauren recalled that her mother was free of pain for 30 to 45 minutes.  Lauren said, “I always believed in music therapy, but seeing its effect with my own eyes, with my own mother, was unbelievable.”  She mentioned that she had seen the changes with other clients, but stated, “Seeing it work for my mother reaffirmed my beliefs and devotion to music therapy because it made a difference for my mother when nothing else did.  It really was life-changing.”

Sadly, Lauren’s mother passed away later that year on Christmas Day, but Lauren is grateful that her mother was able to personally benefit from a program that was so meaningful to her.  The music therapy program at Royalton Music began with one client, and the store’s program now serves about 35 to 40 clients per month.  RMC works with three music therapists: one for adults with brain trauma, and two for children with conditions such as Down Syndrome, Autism, and speech delay.  All three therapists are board certified and offer 30, 45, and 60-minute sessions.   Program sessions are offered on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and as Lauren shared, “the therapists get booked up pretty quickly!”  She says that the program is not heavily promoted, but rather has grown “organically” (by advertising on their website, in the store, and by word-of-mouth).  Participants also have the opportunity to cover costs through funding subsidized by the county – similar to flex spending offered by some medical insurance plans.

Participants in RMC’s music therapy program enjoy sessions in a dedicated music therapy room at the store.  This space is equipped with a piano and other traditional instruments as well as adaptive instruments (including guitars, keyboards, and percussion instruments).  Those in the program also have the opportunity to perform in recitals, much like students in Royalton’s private lesson program.  Recently, music therapy and private lesson students performed on integrated recitals, which Lauren said have been very well-received. 

Royalton Music’s support of music therapy programs is not limited to their own space, however.  Lauren shared that she works with other programs in terms of sponsorship and instrument/equipment donations.  Recently, she had the opportunity to assist a college student travelling to Ghana – which also happens to be Lauren’s husband’s home country.  Lauren told us that the students in Ghana had so few material goods but were so happy simply to have “$1 kazoos” from Royalton Music.  “Seeing a group of children with these simple kazoos with our logo stamped on them  -- happy and making music – brought me to tears,” she said. 

Royalton Music Center’s music therapy program is one of several educational offerings at the store.  Lauren explained that there is “the educational side of the store and the retail side of the store.”  On the retail side, they have grown and expanded, offering sales, rentals, and displaying at trade shows throughout the country.  On the educational side, there are programs for everyone.  Royalton Music offers The Music Class for infants to 5-year-old children who attend with their parents.  This particular program is now offered seven times a week.   In addition to their private lesson program which is comprised of over 40 instructors who teach more than 600 students each week, Royalton Music also provides group lessons, summer music camps, and ensembles – including a jazz band, rock band, a Montessori-based wind band, group guitar, and group ukelele.  One of Royalton’s latest summer offerings is an “originals” rock camp where students write and record their own music in a professional music studio.  We can only imagine how many lives have been enriched by their programs.  This remarkable family business will undoubtedly thrive as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2014, bringing music into the lives of those who seek it – and those who may once have considered it only a dream, but never a reality.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Christina Jennings: Recording the Music of George Rochberg

Christina Jennings, Lura Johnson, and George Rochberg.
Part II


This summer I have been very busy preparing for my Fall recording session. This music, which is very dear to my heart, will be Volume I of music for flute by the American composer, George Rochberg. In addition to actually practicing this music- which has moments of extreme technical demand and lots of juicy choices to make about sound color and style- I am involved in the large scale transcription project of Rochberg’s Caprice Variations for solo violin. Each of these miniature movements are based on the Niccolo Paganini theme we flutists know from the etudes (Caprice 24, book 2). Each of Rochberg’s caprices is done in a different style- Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Bartok, and many of them quote moments from his own Concord Quartets (#4-6). These Quartets were pivotal compositions in the 1970s and 80s and were composed for my father’s string quartet. I grew up with this music through the string quartets, but also through my father’s performance of the Caprices. Here are some of his notes and also a link to his youtube version (Andrew Jennings Complete Caprice variations
1970 was a pivotal year in Mr. Rochberg’s life in many ways. He was working on two large-scale commissions, a solo piano work for Jerome Lowenthal which became the Carneval Music, and a new string quartet for the Concord Quartet debut recital. He was struggling in both works with  a multi-lingual musical vocabulary which drew as much on the musics of the past as those of the present without the use of overt quotation. From the vantage point of 2010 it is hard to understand (or remember) just how radical this idea was in 1970 (which is a measure of just how potent and successful his revolutionary work was to be.)  It was an enormously difficult challenge that was taking vast amounts of time to work out. At the same time his teen-aged daughter was on the crux of her own dilemma. A gifted dancer as well as a brilliant intellect, she had been apprenticed to the Buffalo Ballet  and was being groomed for a career in dance. The pressure on her to make the decision between scholarship and dance was enormous at such a young age and she asked her father for advice. Never one for half measures, George decided that he would attend every one of her performances of Nutcracker in Philadelphia in order to see just how she might fit into this lifestyle so he could better advise her.
He described to me returning home every evening exhausted (and he never could stand Tchaikowsky to start with) flopping down on his couch, where he did most of his composing, and only having enough energy to produce little sketches for the larger works. These sketches took the form of solo violin miniatures where he was working out certain ideas, and as he wrote he began to use as a “springboard” the twenty-fourth Caprice of Paganini. He was intrigued not only by its compelling simplicity but also by the way that same music was reflected in  many other composers. That musical germ allowed him to find a bridge to Bach, to Mahler, Beethoven, Brahms and on and on.
By the end of some fifty Nutcrackers George had a sizeable stack of short sketches which allowed him to finish both the Carvneval Music and the Quartet in time for their respective premieres. (By the way, his advice to Chessie was not to pursue ballet and she went on to a brilliant academic career that has included the award of a MacArthur grant.)
After the success of the Quartet, George became the composer of the moment, his music was being played all over and there were many calls on him for new works. His publisher, on a visit to his studio noticed the stack of manuscript sketches and when George told him what it was, suggested that he might like to turn them into something publishable. In 1973, after polishing and reworking the sketches, they were published as the Caprice Variations for Solo Violin.
The works were not conceived in any was as “pedagogical” studies as some have thought, rather they are more in the style of the great “miniatures” tradition of the piano literature (Chopin, Brahms, Liszt come to mind.)

Jennings-Johnson Duo
The transcription process has been a creative nirvana as I make choices about how to best capture the composer’s intentions and also bring some of my own thoughts alive. Because I grew up in a family of violinists and am now married to a violist, string writing and technique is familiar. I have been able to use flute extended techniques to bring out some of the colors of the violin, including multiphonics, flutter tongue, jet whistle, and whistle tones to name a few. This project has followed me on my summer Festival hopping: first at Sarasota Music Festival where I debuted a few of the new transcriptions on Sarasota Public Radio, then at Greenwood Music Camp (in Cummington, MA) where I finished up the actual transcriptions. My family and I are currently enjoying an island off the coast of Maine where, while they sail and kayak, I am cleaning-up the transcriptions and actually practicing them! CU alumnus Mathieu D’Ordine has been putting the transcriptions into Finale, so we’ve been sending back and forth lots of drafts.

I look forward to rehearing with my amazing collaborators: Lura Johnson ( and June Han (  and working with the incredible Grammy-nominated producer and engineer Judith Sherman (

Drafts of Caprice Variations used as scrap paper for 4 year olds!